You know it’s funny to think that as little as 10 years ago a meeting away from the office pretty much meant that you would be cut off from your corporate communications – how the world has change – these days we have a plethora of devices from Blackberry’s to smart phone’s web based mail – and SMS to name but a few. It’s almost a direct reverse of how we used to manage – now we have , almost, too many devices!
Given today’s marketplace it takes something special to stand out from the crowd – either through feature or design – ergo the Blackberry – it’s one task (simple email on the go) done with aplomb has become a worldwide smash – but what of it’s competitors – how can they snatch the crown from the industry leader for mobile devices? Enter the Palm Treo 750. which combines phone, email, web, messaging all in a simple and accessible device
Palm have a long history of PDA’s stretching back to the late 90’s – famed for their earlier models such as the Palm Pilot – these simple but thoughtfully produced PDA’s were the first leaders within the market – one of the biggest draw backs of these devices (from a users perspective) was the lack of a familiar operating system and as such windows powered devices such as the Ipaq took valuable market share. With the introduction of the 700 series Treo’s, the newer models now utilize Windows Mobile Series 5. The Treo 750v is the latest in this series of products – so how does it do?
Well first off Palm have modified the windows os a little to cope with the platform – so in come the additions of features such dialing by name – voicemail control – web search and chat view – not major changes – but all of these are made to enhance the operating system given the cell phone platform rather than wholesale reforms.
For starters, it’s similar to the Blackberry (with a little hint of XDA too) – the first thing you notice is the vibrant 240 x 240 touchscreen – it’s nice and bright – displays the colors nicely (although only 16 bit). The screen isn’t as big as other Windows mobile devices but does its job well enough – as with most similar devices the backlight can be toned down to conserve battery power – it’s not the greatest screen out in bright sunshine but that’s a familiar problem with this kind of device – Design wise the rounded corners makes it comfortable to hold and the 4.4" x 2.3" x 0.8" dimensions make it easy to pop it in your pocket (this is made easier with the fact that the 750 has lost the antennae stub of it’s 700 series predecessors.)
The device comes fitted with a QWERTY style keyboard and this is relatively easy to operate – phone and navigation buttons sit above the keyboard below the screen. All the buttons are ergonomically placed and make navigation and changing settings on the phone relatively straight forward.
Featuring Windows mobile 5.0 the Treo 750 benefits from the usual Windows features under the hood – such MS Word, Excel and Powerpoint – as with any device of this kind – the screen can be a limitation in what can be achieved – and the applications are obviously not as functionally rich as their desktop counterparts – but for the mobile worker the familiarity with their everyday applications will shorten their learning curve with the device and help their productivity.
The 750 also features a raft of Multimedia options – first of all a 1.3 MegaPixel camera and secondly taking advantage of the Windows Media Player featured with the OS for movies and music. Looking at the camera, well its functionally average – by no means is it the most powerful on the cell phone market but we’re guessing that’s not what most users will want the Treo for – Media player under windows mobile can cope with movies and music – storage on the Treo can be boosted by a mini-SD slot on the right hand side of the device. Again in the world of the Ipod Windows Multi media player could be accused of being a tad basic – but again – this isn’t the devices main selling point.
As with many of these devices – the way it handles email can be what separates the best from the rest. Here the Treo offers “out of the box” compatibility with MS Exchange and access to Pop3 or IMAP accounts. All of these are managed via the Outlook mobile Interface – those familiar with outlook will be right at home. The usual options such as the Today screen – are there – mails can be compiled quickly through the keyboard interface – again nothing new but it’s done well and the process is simple enough.
The Treo also offers web Browsing which can be achieved via mobile Internet Explorer – with the right high bandwidth network web browsing is a dream with explorer providing a reliable mobile browsing experience. Whilst some sites are clearly not designed for smaller screens – pocket explorer does a fine job at rendering most sites.
Synching with your desktop can be achieved via Microsoft’s active synch software and suitable cables – other connectivity comes from built in Bluetooth and infrared. The activesync is easy to set up and operate.
Certainly the Treo is packed with features – a criticism of the blackberry is that it’s limited in what it can do (but it does it well) certainly the Windows OS brings a wealth of possibilities to the Treo and with the design changes that palm have made do add a edge to the device – whether it’ll appeal to people is a matter of taste and requirements – certainly there are other devices in the marketplace that offer similar and time will tell how the Treo 750 does.